2017/18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Lewis Grabban (21')
  • Sam Gallagher (16')
  • Sam Gallagher (67')

Sunderland and Birmingham play out draw

Championship basement boys Birmingham showed enough fight to earn a point with a 1-1 draw at relegation rivals Sunderland.
Despite having to play with 10 men for the final 23 minutes when Sam Gallagher, who had put his side ahead with a 16th-minute opener and his fourth of the season, was sent off for a second caution, City held on.
It was a frustrating afternoon for Sunderland who had hoped to build on last weekend's first victory at the Stadium of Light in almost a year with a second in a row but it never turned out that way. Instead they will spend Christmas in the bottom three.
In the end the only goal they could conjure was from Lewis Grabban. The 12-goal front-man, on loan from Bournemouth, hammered in the equaliser five minutes after the opener to leave City bottom and without an away win in 12.
Birmingham caused problems in the final third with a front three of Gallagher, Jota and Jeremie Boga lively, even if they are bottom of the division.
Sunderland fans might have expected it to have been easier after last week's lift, when they finally ended a 21-match wait for a win against Fulham. It never was, though.
After a lively enough start from Sunderland they should have edged ahead when Grabban arrived in the penalty area and flicked a finish wide from close range after Donald Love's low delivery.
Less than seven minutes later Birmingham made them pay. George Honeyman lost possession and a quick ball was played for Gallagher to run onto.
He turned and saw an initial shot blocked by Marc Wilson but the forward applied the finish to raise concerns on Wearside again.
Sunderland goalkeeper Robbin Ruiter had already made an earlier save from Jonathan Grounds' head but Sunderland quickly levelled five minutes later.
Grabban controlled a ball in the box, sent a pass to the other side of the area for Love to volley towards the back post where the striker had carried on running to turn first time beyond David Stockdale.
Birmingham looked dangerous, though. Ruiter had to be alert to make a strong save at his near post from Gallagher's clever backheel after Jota had found him from the byline. The keeper also got down low to his left to hold a 20-yard effort from Jota.
Sunderland needed to do more in the final third. There was a low strike from range from James Vaughan that rolled inches wide and Honeyman saw a chipped cross towards the back post tipped over by Stockdale when it looked like it might drop in.
Sunderland's chances increased when Gallagher, already booked for going down cheaply in the area, was red carded for a strong challenge on Vaughan.
And Honeyman should have scored from an unmarked position soon after, side footing wide from 15 yards. But there was no winner.

English League Championship Standings

1 West Bromwich Albion 12 +9 25
2 Leeds United 12 +9 23
3 Swansea City 12 +7 22
4 Nottingham Forest 12 +6 22
5 Queens Park Rangers 12 0 22
6 Preston North End 12 +10 21
7 Charlton Athletic 12 +6 21
8 Sheffield Wednesday 12 +7 20
9 Bristol City 12 +2 20
10 Fulham 12 +8 19
11 Cardiff City 12 0 17
12 Birmingham City 12 -4 16
13 Brentford 12 +1 15
14 Blackburn Rovers 12 -2 15
15 Derby County 12 -3 15
16 Luton Town 12 -2 14
17 Millwall 12 -5 14
18 Wigan Athletic 12 -6 14
19 Hull City 12 -3 13
20 Reading 12 -5 11
21 Middlesbrough 12 -6 10
22 Huddersfield Town 12 -6 9
23 Stoke City 12 -9 8
24 Barnsley 12 -14 7